Thursday, April 14, 2011

Debra Salonen & Micole Black She said/she said

She said/she said--two views are better than one

Q: What is your Best and Worst writing habit?


Deb’s answer:

My best habit: I write down everything, no matter how silly or trivial.

Even the most innocent comment can lead to a fresh insight or take you someplace you didn’t even know you needed to visit. Small insights can lead to big “A-ha” moments.

For example, when my 85-year-old father-in-law was visiting last month, he and I were talking about growing old. One of the pearls of wisdom that fell from his mouth was: "I know that one day I'll wake up and I'll be dead. And I'm okay with that."

The comment made me laugh, but I also grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled it down. Later, I placed the note on my bedside table, planning to add it to a folder on my lap top. But, before I got around to that, my husband chanced to read it. The look on his face--horror, concern, fear, bemusement--when he asked me about it was truly priceless.

Naturally, his reaction went straight into my WIP. In fact, it led to a key insight of my hero’s back-story. All because I scribbled down a note that probably would have slipped away unremembered if I hadn’t taken the time.

Micole’s Answer:

My best writing habit… hmmm (she scratches her head, wink) If my daughter were here she would tell you that I make a story out of everything. Every person that I see walking down the street, sitting in their car, the kids walking up to her school, every person is my subject. I have verbally crafted some pretty interesting stories about why the guy next to me, sitting at the traffic light, is so impatient in his car. I see everything as an opportunity to make a story, because that is what life really is. It’s everyone’s story.

I think that helps me when I am writing, because if my characters are acting a certain way, (maybe sitting at a traffic light and nervous) I am able to remember just exactly what that gut looked like. It’s a memory trick for me I guess.

My kids have fun while I’m doing it too. At least someone is being entertained by my stories! ;-)


Deb’s Answer:

My worst habit? Letting go of perfectionism. I remind myself all the time that a first draft can--and probably should be--fast and loose. Some characters reveal themselves incrementally. The more I write, the more I learn. Maybe I have to earn their trust. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s easy for me to get bogged down in the early chapters, re-writing and fine-tuning scenes that might--in the final draft--not even be included.

Micole’s Answer:

My worst habit is re-writing a manuscript fifty times. But I am sure I could come up with at least ten more bad writing habits I have. ;-)

How do you handle rejection and/or extreme revisions?

Deb’s Answer:

My April and May releases, RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS and A FATHER’S QUEST, both required extensive revisions. This is not the norm for me. In fact, I can point to several books out of the past 28 that required no changes. So, dealing with massive revisions required more than a few tourniquets applied to my ego.

Basically, a revision is a rejection (of what you initially offered) with some direction on how you can improve your story to make it acceptable. How does a writer deal with that?

Number one, you have to acknowledge that each book is unique. As romance writers we work hard to bash the widely-held belief that “all romance books are alike.” We know that’s not true. And the more books you write, the more you know that each book brings with unique obstacles you have to clear to get that story on paper. The hurdles can be as unique as the book. They can also be problems that originate in your “real” life and keep you from fully committing to your characters’ story.

That’s what happened with me. Not surprising given the emotional duress I’d been under in my real life--first, losing my mother, then a year later, helping my beloved sister fight a losing battle with lung cancer. As my editor said, "I hit a wall." But a contract is a contract.

My advice is to read your rejection or revision letter thoroughly. Use a highlighter to mark the key points. Then set it aside for a day or two to let the comments and concerns gel. When you sit down to start work, break the issues into a bite-size increments. Focus on one piece at a time. One scene. One character flaw. One hole in the plot. And keep at it until you’ve reached “The End.”

I just saw the RT review for the May book. Four stars! That helped assuage any leftover agony of those painful revisions.

Micole’s Answer:

Well let’s see. I have only been rejected once, not because I am just that good, but because I have only turned my manuscript in to one editor. My initial reaction was tears, then it turned into anger (at myself), then of course denial. I ran the gamut of emotions.

Now I look back and am so happy I was rejected, because I know I wasn’t ready to be published.

What is your best advice for aspiring authors?

Deb’s Answer:

Read what you want to write.

If you're an eclectic reader, you probably think that means you're an eclectic writer. Maybe you are, but that is not what your potential editor wants to see. She wants to know that you are well-versed in the line she publishes. She isn’t going to care that you read mysteries and vampire books unless she publishes mysteries and vampire books.

I speak from experience. I love historicals. I used to read tons of them. But I lack the conviction to do the necessary research to write one. I love mysteries and true-crime stories. But I have no desire to write either of those. I love all kinds of romance, but it wasn’t until I narrowed my focus to one line--Superromance--and immersed myself in the most current titles available, that I began to understand the focus, hear the unwritten rhythm and could feel the invisible fabric of the line.

Quite simply: read to write.

Micole’s Answer:

Write, write, write and write some more. The more you write the better you will be and the more confident you will be.

Deb, thank you so much for doing this interview with me. It was a lot of fun. It is my first interview (blushing)

Now here is a sneak peak at Deb’s new books that will be hitting shelves this month and next month. Deb has also offered to do a giveaway to two lucky commenters to win a book off of her backlist! Thanks Deb!


Back cover copy:

A risky attraction!

What do a South Dakota rancher and a Hollywood stuntwoman have in common--outside their landlord-tenant relationship? Not much. But from the moment Cade Garrity meets Jessie Bouchard, he's captivated. Although he knows a woman who is paid to take risks is the wrong role model for his impressionable daughter, he can't keep away.

From the start, Jessie is very clear that her stay is temporary. Can Cade be content to let her leave when the time comes? The more he knows about the woman behind the stunts, the more he's sure that she's the one for him. So now he has to convince her to take that big leap into commitment...without a safety net.

A Father’s Quest

April 2011

Is he ready for what he might find?

Jonas Galloway wouldn’t show up on Remy Bouchard’s doorstep without an excellent

reason. Not after a secret destroyed what was so good between them. In this case, though, locating his daughter trumps unfinished business. He hopes he can persuade Remy to see it the same way.

Working with his high school sweetheart makes Jonas want to pick up where they left off. Especially because Remy is more tempting than ever. But he is a father and his little girl has to be his priority. Then an exposed lie hands him and Remy a possible future. And he can’t leave Louisiana without finding out if second chances are all they’re cracked up to be.

Debra Salonen


Ginny M. Christensen said...

Hello ladies,

Wow, Micole, interesting flip to your interviews. I can relate to all of your responses. I have so many pieces of napkins, notes, envelope backs that I have jotted down words, a phrase, an idea, that I need a personal secretary to organize and maintain them all for me! Rewriting...hmmmm...probably my worst habit too!

Thanks ladies for your words of wisdom.

Debra Salonen said...

Ginny, I found this process very fun and revealing. I upload every sort of app for keeping organized...then forget to use them. Ack! I need an app for that.


dkoedits said...

What a fun and informative interview ladies!! I think you both offered up lots of good advice. And just a take on revisions from the flip side...if an editor is asking for revisions (although with someone who's written 28 books...I'm sure it's a completely different process) but, NORMALLY, they aren't just saying this is WRONG. They are saying, this will make it BETTER.

Great to "see" both my chaptermates today!


Debra Salonen said...

Donna, we should have invited you to give a third "She said." Would have been brililant!

Yes, definitely, the editorial intent, when change is requested, is to make the content stronger and more appealing to readers. My editor was spot-on in the revision process, but it's still work and it still stings a bit because you probably really liked what you wrote the first time. Like Micole, I've gone through the mourning process, too--even when the end result was much, much better. Sigh.


Kimberly Van Meter said...

Excellent blog. I loved your FIL's comment. It was priceless.

Debra Salonen said...

Thank, Kim!!! You should have seen the look on Paul's face when he read it, though.


Bron said...

I won't say much because I'm off to write, write, write and read, read, read, - luckily I love doing both. Thanks ladies.

Debra Salonen said...

Take me with you, Bron...

Seriously, I feel a little over-exposed after a week of blogging. I truly appreciate the chance to get out and about, but now I'm ready for a little book time.

Thanks for dropping by, Bron.


Micole Black said...

Hi everyone,

Sorry for dropping in so late. I was at work and couldn't get away pesky day job! i'm so happy all of you have dropped in and enjoyed the interview. It was a lot of fun!!! Hi Deb!


Sheri Humphreys said...

I loved the format of this interview. I know some of the enjoyment was due to my knowing both of you, but I think I enjoyed it more than any other interview you've done, Micole. Loved the insights you both gave. Especially Micole making up stories about the people she comes in contact with. Sheri

Debra Salonen said...

Thanks, Sheri. I enjoyed it, too. I got the idea from our Superromance Authors blog. Ellen Hartman, Jeannie Watt and I interviewed each other for a 3-day group blog. It was hugely successful and FUN!

Thanks so much, Micole, for inviting me!


kaelee said...

Hi ~ I really enjoyed this double interview. I like getting insights into a writer's life even though i'm only a reader.

Debra Salonen said...

Kaelee, you are so much more than "only a reader." You are an element in a writer's life's blood. If not for readers....oh, dear, I can't even think about it.

Thanks so much for stopping by today.


Micole Black said...

Thanks Sheri! ;-)Nice to see you here. I am so glad you enjoyed the interview!



Micole Black said...

Hi Kaelee,

So glad that you stopped by. This was a very fun interview. I would love to do it again! And please don't call yourself "only" a reader. Readers are the most important part!



Nas Dean said...

Hi Debra,

Thanks for that awesome tip to aspiring writers! And lol, at you needing an application to remember to use all other applications!

Thanks for sharing!

Debra Salonen said...

Nas, I was afraid this might seem a bit repetitious after your interview on Monday on your great blog, but doing it with the two of us helped keep it fresh, I think. And fun!

Thanks for stopping by.


Micole Black said...

Congratulations to Ginny and Kaelee who are the winners of Debs contest. You may choose a book from Deb's backlist. Please contact me for more info on how to get your gifts!!!